Reflections from Pastor Jennifer
I encourage you to use your prayer journals. I challenge you to commit to praying for the needs that you heard from your church family. Bring every need, every desire, every wound to the Father. Just like an earthly father will listen and respond to the requests of his child, so our Heavenly Father is at the ready to listen and respond to us!
We also cannot overestimate the power of good rest! Rest is a gift from God the Father, and an example set by Christ. You do not have to stay awake worrying. He gives His beloved ones sleep (see Psalm 127:2).
There is a link between altar building and spiritual renewal
Throughout Scripture, an altar pictures access to God and is always the beginning of divine blessings. This is why Abraham built an altar wherever he journeyed—he knew he needed God everywhere. Matthew Henry said of this pattern, “Wherever man pitches a tent, God should have an altar.” Most men spend their time building a home, a career, a life, a retirement, and a reputation. Discerning men understand that an altar is the most important thing they will ever build.
This does not mean that we must construct a physical structure; it means that we build the priority of prayer into our schedules and routines. The altar can be anywhere because God is everywhere. For the first-century church, an upper room became their altar as they sought the Lord’s direction and enabling. All of God’s power and purpose came out of that meeting with God! The Old Testament historical book of Ezra is a book of return and revival. Ezra was dealing with a small group of God’s people whose nation had been in bondage. They were in danger of losing another generation and longed to see the Lord work again. What was their first order of business? They built an altar (Ezra 3:2-3).
The foundation of the Temple could not be laid, the worship could not be reinstated, and the work could not move forward until the altar was restored. Each day they began to meet God at the altar. In the first six chapters of Ezra, we see the initial return from Babylon, led by Zerubbabel. Beginning in Ezra 7, we read about the next phase of their return under Ezra.
Repeatedly, we are told that the hand of God was on this man (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28) and on the people that he influenced (Ezra 8:18, 22). Why was Ezra used so mightily in the return and revival of God’s people? One verse gives us some insight into his life: Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, do it, and teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (Ezra 7:10)
Here is the divine order:
- Preparation–“For Ezra had prepared his heart…” Ezra demonstrated a genuine humility and hunger to know God.
- Saturation–“…to seek the law of the Lord…” The Word of God is God’s revelation of Himself to man. If we truly want to know Him, then we must seek Him in His Word.
- Application–“…and to do it…” We must move from simply being hearers of the Word to being doers of the Word (James 1:22-25).
- Instruction–“…and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” A heart that has been transformed will always desire that others know the truth. Only as we obey can we teach others what God desires (statutes) and why He demands it (judgments).
The easiest thing for all of us to do is to stand and tell others what they should do. The most challenging thing is kneeling and asking God to make His Word and His will powerfully real in our lives.